The A-Z of forgotten football heroes: P - Morten Gamst Pedersen

The A-Z of forgotten football heroes: P - Morten Gamst Pedersen

A look back at another forgotten football hero in the form of a cult hero around Lancashire Morten Gamst Pedersen

Danial Kennedy

The Premier League has seen a number of players from Scandinavia arrive on the English shores over the last 25 years. Many of these; the likes of Olof Mellberg, Daniel Agger and John Arne Riise, became cult heroes at their respective English clubs.

These Scandinavians dominated throughout the noughties but no more so than Morten Gamst Pedersen, who despite his slow start for Blackburn Rovers became a cult hero at Ewood Park across nine years in Lancashire.

Getting a start in the homeland 

It is fair to say that the Norwegian has lived quite the life having also fronted a boyband made up of fellow compatriot footballers, but it is on the field where he has made his name, starting his career with Tromsø.

His first two seasons in professional football failed to kick into gear but his fall to the second tier of Norwegian football saw him come into his own back in 2002, as 21 goals from 28 games helped Tromsø on their way back to the top flight. 

He failed to reach those sort of levels again for the Scandinavian outfit, but his career was continuing to go from strength to strength as he would go on to pick up his first senior international cap in 2004 and it would be the start of his affiliation with England. 

Pederson brought to the Barclays 

Pedersen was performing well in the 2004 season for Tromsø, having scored seven goals at the halfway point. That form seemed to catch the eye of Graeme Souness who had been looking to find a replacement for Damien Duff who had left Ewood Park for Chelsea the previous July. 

The fee £1.5m looked a gamble at the time from the former Liverpool man and despite paying that money Souness failed to really give Pedersen a fair crack of the whip - he gave fans a first glimpse of himself against Manchester United but from there he proved to be out of favour with the Scotsman and would go on lengthy periods without involvement. 

There was a change of guard in September of the same year as Souness packed his bags to make the move to Newcastle while Mark Hughes was brought in. Pedersen still struggled throughout the winter months but his form began to pick up towards the turn of the year. 

The year of 2005 started well with an excellent strike against Cardiff City which started a run of scoring three goals in as many matches, after a bumpy start to it all Pedersen finished his first season with eight goals in all competitions across 27 appearances. 

Coming into his own 

The second-season syndrome is supposed to be something that players dread but it was certainly when Pedersen began to assert himself on the English top flight. It was down to the faith given to him by Hughes as he made the left-hand side his own and he prospered. 

It started with a coveted award as his volley against Fulham right at the beginning of the 2005/06 season won him the BBC Match of the Day's Goal of the Month for August, but what followed the proceeding month was arguably Pedersen's defining moment in the Blackburn shirt. 

Rovers headed to Old Trafford in September 2005 having not won at the Theatre of Dreams since 1962, but Pedersen looked to change that as his double secured a historic victory and wrote him into Blackburn folklore. 

It didn't stop there for the Blackburn brigade as Pedersen played a huge part in helping the Lancashire club into the then-UEFA Cup places, it was also good for the winger on a personal level as he would record his best stats throughout his nine-year stay in England with 10 goals to his name. 

Always in the wrong place at the wrong time 

Pedersen continued to go from strength to strength as the years went on at Ewood Park which saw him rewarded with a new four-year deal in May 2010. The Norwegian continued to show fans the things that he has become to be known for such as long-range strikes but at the beginning of the 2010's Pedersen was starting to gain a reputation as a player who would be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The first incident came to a head in April 2010 when Rovers took on Everton and midfielder Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard reacted badly to a tackle from the Norwegian as he preceded to poke him in both the cheek and the eye with both disciplined for stopping play. 

Trouble would arise again in November of the same year and it was mixed emotions at St James' Park; Pedersen managed to open the scoring inside the third minute with his 40th goal for Rovers but was on the end of a punch in the stomach from bad boy Joey Barton which saw him handed a three-match ban for his outlandish behaviour. 

Bringing it all to an end 

Blackburn Rovers' time in the Premier league came to an end in 2012 when the former champions dropped down to the second-tier, it was believed that Pedersen had offers to stay in the English top-flight but showed his dedication to the Ewood Park stating that he would work to help Blackburn get back to the big time. 

Pedersen would only play the one season in the Championship and sadly it was one of Pedersen's worst for the club with his 33 appearances getting a return of a single goal. The disappointment was furthered when it was announced that the 2012/13 season was his last in Lancashire as it was announced that he was allowed to leave Blackburn a year early from his contract as they looked to cut their wage bill. 

Pedersen jumped ship to Turkey with Karabükspor but that was short lived with 13 appearances in his only season, he then made his return to his homeland with Rosenborg before going full circle with a return to Tromsø where he is still playing to this day. 

Pedersen may not be remembered by many if anything for his spectacular goals on the rare occasion, but one quality is lacking in many footballers in the modern age is loyalty and the Norwegian certainly had that in abundance which will see him in live on Blackburn history for many years to come. 


This article is part of a regular feature series, 'The A-Z of Forgotten Football Heroes'. Check out the last entry, on the unknown Irishman who saved Barcelona, here.